Most secure way for a major sort out

Although I have a reasonable filing system, over the years locations of files have become somewhat untidy and originals and 2 or 3 backups are spread over half a dozen disks. They are in need of a major sort out and the implementation a more efficient backup system. To ensure I don't lose anything, I am using the process below. I apologise in advance for this convoluted question! You may wish to simply skip to the question at the end!

Files are on Folder A of Master drive X and also on Backup drives Y & Z. (Drives Y & Z are being cleared out for a new backup system).

I use Synch left to right (Newer) to move any files that could be newer or not present on folder A of Drive X from matching folders on Drive Y and from Drive Z to ensure I don't lose any

Folder A, Drive X should now have all and the latest copies of every file I originally had there plus any newer or missing ones that were on the matching folder of Y or Z

To clear drive Z I then will use Find duplicates (MD5) to delete any duplicates on folder A of Drive Z. This gives me a second check that I haven't missed anything on drive Z.

Having used synch to move any not originally on drive X from Z to X it should be safe to delete folder A on drive Z. However I sometimes find that some files are still left on drive Z. As they were backups of the original or newer shouldn't both folders have had identical files so there should be nothing left on that folder of drive Z?

Once I have repeated the process and cleared with each folder from drive Y using this process I'll make a backup of drive Z on it. I can then repeat the entire process with drive X to give clear a drive for my second backup.

This may be a ridiculously paranoid approach so if I am an idiot, and irrespective of the above, what is the simplest and most secure way of ensuring I end up with one drive that has every file on it, clear two backup drives and use them to create two new backups?

Dunno if this helps, but it's the way I keep a running backup of my working files apart from a background proprietary app (Seagate). In the lister that you keep your working files - could even be the root dir - open a split window that shows your 'manual' backup drive or directory. Sort this 'backup' lister by 'date modified'. In the first instance just copy the whole shebang to the backup lister. Save this lister layout as 'Paranoid Backup' or whatever. When you change a file, immediately(!) select and copy to the manual backup folder using the DOpus toolbar, replacing the file as necessary.

This way I have a manual backup as well as the automatic one on a different drive; and in DOpus you can check the directory size and file count in the status bar.

Works for me.

Sensible system but I still have this problem of ensuring the paranoid drive has every file on it before I start clearing out old backups to make space for new system. As will have seen in my original post using synch followed by delete duplicates doesn't seem to account for every file.

What sort of files are the 'orphans'? All different, or .ini files or whatever? What I've done in cases like that is just open two listers side by side and compare - a
is this too big a job?

I have about 50,000 plus photos which I am trying to sort out! I haven't counted other files, but as an example, web sites I run total over 70,000 files. An archive of digitised village historical documents runs to nearly 10,000. :open_mouth: That's what comes of using computers getting on for 30 years. for I'm beginning to think I won't bother! My attic is just as bad.

I know that some system files are ignored in synchs and duplicate searches, but the orphan files as you call then are not such files. Unfortunately some files seem to look the same but have acquired date changes or slight differences in size; those I do have to physically look at side by side.

You've left out some pretty relevant information from your process...:

This statement makes it seem like you're just searching drive Z for duplicates... but then saying you expected there to be nothing left on drive Z. Are you in fact searching BOTH drive X and drive Z for duplicates and then trying to just delete the duplicates from drive Z thinking everything on it should have been marked as a dupe of your master drive X?

If so, and you're questioning the files that get left over on drive Z, then why aren't you then individually comparing the "left over" files on drive Z to understand what differences there might be that caused them NOT to be caught by search for duplicate files? This seems to be the part of your process that you consider broken - so why not determine why it's happening? Just because you copied newer files from Z to X doesn't mean that you might not have files on X that are newer than those on Z. You've said X is your "master" drive after all, perhaps there had been some changes to the files on X that never got propagated to Z or Y...?

Sorry - I knew I wouldn't make myself totally clear! I searched drive Z and drive X using MD5 and deleted duplicates on Z. Having previously synched Z across to X everything on Z should also be on X so that a search for duplicates on Z should have found all except system files and, as you say the odd ones with an earlier date. The problem is that some of the left over files seem to be the same and using a basic drag and drop of these files from Z over to X works without my being told that it already exists.
I suppose that means that there is a subtle difference which is not obviously apparent. Will need to dig deeper!
Thanks for your input.